A one-hour one-woman show that is both violent and funny, Dickless is an exciting new production portraying the reality of internet culture, sexual violence, and the struggles of gender identity. Set in Dunningham, Saff/Oli, both played by Rosalind, find themselves in danger - Oli is being blackmailed by an unknown stalker and Saff's best friend is being slandered online. At the same time, she is being hunted down by Oli's supposed girlfriend and the situation becomes bloodier than anyone could have expected.
Dickless, written by Aisha Josiah, and directed by Emily Aboud, takes us on an unexpected journey of rumours, vengeance, seduction, and violence. Saff/Oli move around the town but on stage, there is no change; the simplistic black backing and a chair in the middle of the room allow Rosalind to move us through various locations and scenarios with the most simplistic and effective medium - descriptions. She is one actor but she also has several characters. Her mannerisms and accents shift and heighten as she moves from one voice to the next, taking us on a journey through the day encountering many different people and conversations; we can decipher these different characters through Rosalind's brilliant shift of tone and voice for individual characters, done so cleverly and imaginatively. The music in the background transports us to new places too - the river flowing, a door slamming, people yelling in a pub - we are both in the theatre and also everywhere in Dunningham.
What Dickless does so effectively is it manages the perfect balance of humour and shock - the audience is in stitches at the beginning and then silently taken aback at the end at the unravelling violence depicted in front of us. Rosalind masters the humourous nature of both Saff and Oli so precisely, balancing the need to be funny and serious with the topical nature of sexual assault and gender identity that is very efficiently explored in this play. However, It would have been interesting to see more of Oli's side so that we were able to see more of his struggles with gender identity at the start of the play, rather than at the end.
The descriptions of violence, particularly sexual violence and violence towards animals, were uncomfortable to listen to at times, but it was meant to make us uncomfortable. To shock and confuse us. To disturb us. However, one criticism of this was that sometimes the depictions of the violence against animals were in too much unnecessarily over-dressed detail and too out of place with the rest of the story and as such, perhaps not needed.
Winner of the Peter Shaffer Award, Dickless is a must-see show that will hopefully feature again in London in the future. Raw, gripping, and hilarious, what more could you want?
Dickless played in Studio 3, Riverside Studios, Hammersmith from 30th January to 3rd February, as part of the Bitesize Festival. The festival provides an opportunity for people to see innovative and inspiring new theatre and a chance for new writers and directors to showcase their work. More info: here.
Review: Cara-Louise Scott